Soft washing is an effective method for cleaning the exterior surfaces of a house without damaging materials or finishes. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through the entire process of soft washing a house from start to finish.
We will cover key considerations in planning a soft wash, the necessary equipment and supplies, an overview of soft washing methods, detailed procedures for washing different exterior surfaces, tips for achieving the best results, and what to do when you have completed the job. Whether you are a homeowner looking to DIY or a professional seeking best practices, this article will provide helpful information and recommendations. By the end, you will feel equipped to tackle a soft washing project with confidence.
Planning Your Soft Wash
Proper planning is crucial for an efficient and successful soft washing job. There are several key steps to take before you get started:
Walk around the house and note the type and extent of dirt, mold, mildew, etc. on each surface. This will help determine cleaning methods.
Identify Risk Areas
Check for peeling paint, worn surfaces, or vegetation touching the house. These areas are more sensitive or difficult to clean.
Choose Cleaning Solutions
Select an appropriate soft wash mixing solution and cleaning tools for the job. More details are provided in the equipment section.
Develop a Strategy
Plan the order to clean surfaces, pre-treat stubborn areas, protect landscaping, etc. Systematic washing is most effective.
Check Weather Forecast
Ideally, soft wash when several rain-free days are expected. Avoid windy conditions that can spread solutions.
Let neighbors know about the upcoming project in case of noise, drainage issues, etc. Be courteous.
With thoughtful preparation, you will be set up for an efficient and hassle-free soft washing process.
Equipment and Supplies for Soft Washing
Having the right soft washing equipment and supplies on hand will make the job much smoother. Here are the essential items you will need:
- Soft Wash Mixing Solution: A concentrated mix of surfactants and detergents that lifts dirt and kills mold/mildew.
- Power Washer: Gas-powered model with pressure range of 1500-4000 PSI. Electric may lack needed power.
- Pressure Washer Surface Cleaner: Attachments to evenly distribute spray for faster washing of larger areas.
- Soft Wash Applicator: Such as a pump sprayer, to apply solutions to surfaces.
- Scrub Brushes & Scrapers: For manual agitation of heavily soiled areas if needed.
- Rinse Hose & Nozzle: For final rinse of all treated areas after dwelling time.
- Appropriate Safety Gear: Eye/face protection, gloves, respirators if using harsh chemicals.
- Drop Cloths / Landscape Protection: Shield vegetation, windows, doors, etc. from exposure to runoff.
- Basic Hand Tools: Buckets, rags, putty knives. Helpful for pre-treating.
Being well-equipped with the necessary items for the scope of your soft washing project will make the process safer and more efficient.
Overview of Soft Washing Techniques
Now that preparations and equipment are covered, let’s provide a quick run-through of the general soft washing process from start to finish:
- Pre-wet entire area with water.
- Apply soft wash solution liberally to exterior surfaces.
- Allow solution to dwell for 5-15 minutes. Agitate as needed.
- Rinse thoroughly with pressurized water.
- Use a pump sprayer to spot treat lingering stains.
- Final rinse to remove all residue.
Seems simple enough! But technique refinements can optimize cleaning effectiveness for certain areas:
Siding & Masonry Walls
- Scrub heavy mold with brush & spray mixture
- Adjust nozzles to fan spray at an angle near surface
Windows & Doors
- Use delicate cleaning tips
- Rinse thoroughly to avoid streaks
Roofs & Gutters
- Gain safe access to roof
- Flush gutters until water runs clear
Decks & Fences
- Pre-soak heavily stained areas
- Rinse perpendicular to wood grain
Now let’s get into the step-by-step process for washing the exterior of an entire house.
Detailed Soft Washing Procedure
Follow these key steps to safely and successfully soft wash a house:
- Inspect & Prepare Work Area
- Clear area of furnishings & decorations
- Check for risk factors – worn surfaces, vegetation contact, etc.
- Cover or prune back landscaping as needed
- Mask off windows, doors, vents, etc.
- Soft Wash Siding & Masonry Walls
- Divide walls into sections for systematic washing
- Pre-wet surface with water to prevent absorption
- Apply soft wash solution using a downstream injector on your power washer
- Let solution dwell 5-10 minutes
- Rinse from top down in smooth, overlapping motions
- Spot treat remaining stains and rinse
- Clean Windows, Doors & Trim
- Use delicate surface cleaner tip adjusted to 500 PSI
- Rinse thoroughly immediately after washing each section
- Carefully edge around trim pieces with angled nozzle
- Clean Roof Surfaces
- Use proper safety precautions – anchors, harnesses, secured ladders
- Apply soft wash solution using pump sprayer
- Rinse downslope without allowing excess runoff
- Flush Gutter System
- Clear gutters of debris using gloved hands or scoop
- Attach gutter cleaning nozzle to pressure washer
- Flush gutters until water runs clear
- Clean Decks, Fences & Outdoor Structures
- Pre-soak badly weathered areas
- Gently wash and rinse all surfaces
- Allow 48 hours to dry before applying protectants
- Final Inspection & Cleanup
- Visually check all areas for completion
- Gather supplies & neatly coil hoses
- Dispose of debris & waste properly offsite
By methodically addressing each exterior surface, you can achieve a safe and thorough soft wash. Patience and attention to detail makes perfect results possible!
Tips for Achieving Quality Soft Wash Results
Follow these tips and best practices to get the most from your soft washing efforts:
- Test solutions and pressure on inconspicuous areas first to dial in technique
- Wash from the bottom up to avoid drips staining already cleaned areas
- Allow longer dwell times for stubborn mold and mildew stains
- Increase pressure gradually if needed rather than maxing it out initially
- Get help accessing tricky spots like multi-story peaks and dormers
- Avoid spraying directly into crevices and gaps to reduce moisture intrusion
- Wear slip-resistant footwear on sloped roofs and take regular breaks
- Check in with homeowner periodically for any specialty requests or concerns
- Work section-by-section for complete coverage without gaps or misses
Proper procedures, a methodical approach, patience, and attention to detail are the secrets for executing a flawless soft washing job.
When the Job is Done
Once exterior surfaces have been pressure washed and rinse thoroughly, there are a few final steps to wrap up the project:
- Allow 48 hours for all areas to dry completely before sealing or adding finishes
- Check surfaces for remaining dirt or soap residue; spot clean as needed
- Remove masking materials from windows, vents, etc.
- Clean up and remove all equipment, supplies, and waste
- Safely dispose of used solutions – do not dump waste fluids down drains
- Notify homeowner that the job is complete so they can inspect work
- Recommend any necessary follow-up repairs – caulking gaps, paint touch-ups, etc.
- Provide information on protective sealants to maintain surfaces after cleaning
With surfaces revitalized by soft washing, the house exterior will look refreshed for years to come. Taking measures to allow proper dry times and set homeowners up for success with protective products after you complete the wash will leave a lasting positive impression of quality service.
In closing, soft washing is an extremely effective cleaning process that safely restores exterior building surfaces while being gentle on materials. Careful planning, using proper equipment, following best practice washing and rinsing techniques, and executing the job with patience and attention to detail allows you to achieve impressive results.
We hope this comprehensive walk-through of soft washing a house helped you through the process. But if you need professional help, contact Sullins Suds Pressure Washing right away!